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Bates Caprilli Close Contact

Bates Saddles
- Item #16089

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As riders and online shoppers, we know it can be tough to buy a new bridle or pair of boots without trying them on. That's why we moved the fitting room to your living room (or barn)! From breeches to blankets, if you or your horse can try it on, you can return it, free! Just use the pre-paid return label included in your order within 60 days from the purchase date. And of course, please make sure the item is in like-new condition with original packaging (we said 'fitting room', not 'war room'!).

The Bates Caprilli is ideal for showjumping, eventing and hunters.

Designed for serious and professional riders who recognize the impact of saddle design on their performance.


  • CAIR® Panel System for better performance and freer movement of horse
  • Easy-Change Gullet System allows the saddle to be fitted to suit the horse's changing shape
  • Deeper seat than most other jumping saddles for extra stability
  • Short stitched triple girth points for extra safety
  • Adjustable Flexibloc System to provide a more secure position for the rider


Test Ride this saddle! Click here for details.
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    SmartPak customers are some of the most conscientious animal owners around. We encourage you to share your experience with the products we sell to help fellow customers to make informed choices for their animals. We do not edit these reviews in any way - they are direct customer-to-customer communication. We do monitor reviews for positive and negative feedback, and use this feedback to improve our selection as well as sharing feedback with product manufacturers to help them improve their products. Please note that we recommend consulting your vet with serious health issues.

    Bates Caprilli Close Contact is rated 4.5625 out of 5 by 16.
    Rated 5 out of 5 by from Still a great saddle First off let me say that I bought a Bates Caprilli Close Contact saddle twelve years ago and have only just recently decided to get a new saddle. I have been very very happy with my older Bates. It has held up to a lot of hard riding. It's what I use to play, train, show, and start my horses in. It looks GREAT and does not show its age at all. I only decided to upgrade because I had an opportunity to sell my saddle to one of my students. I like the security of the deeper wider seat and the narrow twist makes it very comfortable and feels closer to your horse. Fits every horse I have ever had (20+ including ponies) and often doesn't require the extra bumpers, halfback pads, and other things I might need with a different saddle. The new saddle seems like maybe Bates has gone down a bit in the quality of the leather they use but there are many improvements also. I like the new metal keepers for your excess stirrup leather. The easy-change gullet system is MUCH improved with velcro coverings and easier access. The saddle feels the same as my old one and seems to be breaking in nicely. Billets are a little heavier duty I think (although my old one's are still holding up nicely). I was very happy I could get this saddle in the newer darker shade since my older saddle was caramel and tended to be hard to match equipment/leathers with. Nicer cover than my old one that fits better too! They sent along leather balsam and the usual key chains also. My only complaint was the packing was HORRIBLE. Tiny sheet of padding haphazardly wrapped around part of the saddle and the cardboard box was tearing open. I was very concerned for the well being of my saddle but thankfully it was undamaged. This was the manufacturer's wrapping not Smartpak's. One other thing worth noting is this saddle is very wide in the seat and harder to fit a wither pad to sometimes. Just worth keeping in mind. Overall I am very happy and look forward to several more decades of riding in this newer Bates! Highly recommend!
    Date published: 2014-01-08
    Rated 4 out of 5 by from Nice Looking Saddle For $ We ordered this saddle on a "try out" basis. We were impressed with the look of the saddle for the money. We should have ordered the "wide" tree to try out as well for our Paint hourse because the medium tree that came with the saddle did not fit, and we had to send the saddle back. It's a nice enough saddle that we may order it again and try it with the "wide" tree. It was easy to try the saddle out on this program - we had no problems returning the saddle.
    Date published: 2013-09-25
    Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great Purchase The saddle fits my stocky quarter horse like a glove. The adjustable gullet in this saddle is easier to change than in the Wintec close contact saddle. I love how comfortable it is and it was easy to break in. The only thing i am not fond of is that my flaps have lost their coloring already. Right where the stirrup leather goes. I followed all instructions with the saddle but I still lost coloring. However, I would remake the same purchase as this saddle will continue to fit whatever horse I ride next due to the changeable gullet
    Date published: 2013-08-12
    Rated 3 out of 5 by from Decent for the money Nice enough saddle for the price. The Cair panels didn't fit my 16.0h Hanoverian though and bridged in the middle. The leather and was okay and the seat was comfortable, but I wasn't a fan of the color - looked like a fake medium brown color. Overall though, a decent saddle for a lower-end price.
    Date published: 2013-04-06
    Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Saddle for the money I purchased my Caprilli in 2010, and have received many compliments on it. I ordered the light colored brown saddle, but it oiled up to almost a Havanna brown. The leather is soft, supple, and the seat is sticky. The one complaint I have is that last year the saddle seat developed some "raised marks" that look like dirt or fungus deposits, but they aren't. No one is able to figure out what they actually are or how to remove them. They haven't had any effect anything other than some of the cosmetic appeal. As others have mentioned, the interchangeable gullet system is excellent - though hard to do the first time, and the saddle moves and conforms nicely to my horse. Now that my saddle is a couple of years old, my concern is with how well it will stand up. So far no issues.
    Date published: 2013-03-08
    Rated 5 out of 5 by from thrilled! LOVE this saddle, it has made a world of difference to me & my horse. The XCHANGE system is super easy after you've done it once or twice. The CAIR panels are cushy and have a lot of surface area, spreading weight around nicely. Since having this saddle, my horse's back has visibly muscled up on top (as her back is no longer pinched!) and she moves much more freely through the shoulder and hips. Though it took a bit of adjusting to (as expected), the saddle feels great to ride in and has a wonderful balance. I like the option of the moveable blocks, but I have been riding without them. My first and only gripes are that Smartpak needs to update its product info; the saddle looks closer to the Bates Elevation than the older-style Caprillis shown here. Also, my saddle arrived in just a box and a thin sheet of foam, and the edges of front flaps are still dented inward from the packaging. Woes of free shipping perhaps?
    Date published: 2013-01-20
    Rated 3 out of 5 by from Decent saddle not preferred though I'd like to start off by saying this saddle is so stiff, the seat has what feels like supple leather but when riding in I find it hard. The leather is hard to break in and is not supple even after 4 different oilings, conditioning riding 1-3 a day and riding every day. I bought this saddle because my beval didn't fit my horse anymore due to her constant weight gain and muscle development and I needed something quick and easy. I just find it hard and I prefer the old leather which was very nice and supple and I personally didn't find it scratched easily if you took care of it.I do like though how you can change the gullet and panels though its a little tricky to do. I think the only con to this saddle is it just being so darn stiff. Hopefully over time as time goes and I can get better saddle care soaps it will supple up more. I think this saddle is perfect for someone who is leasing and not big into showing or starting off on school horses since it's changeable to every horse.In my opinion it scratches easily and is awkwardly died under the saddle skirt. But overall its like the title says.... a decent saddle just not my butts delight.
    Date published: 2012-12-03
    Rated 4 out of 5 by from NICE Saddle, but did not work out... I have a lot of mixed feelings about this saddle. As someone before me mentioned, they have changed the leather and it's not as soft and supple as the older models. However, the new leather seems thicker and does not scratch as easily. I would rate the construction of this saddle A+ The CAIR panels have really helped my thoroughbred's shoulder soreness, however.... the tree is so STIFF and so STRAIGHT no matter what gullet I try it bridges in his back. I've noticed the rear panels are fuller and firmer than the front panels, can't imagine that feels good to my horse. Also, I'm constantly fighting the balance of this saddle. Being a Jumper rider I really need a saddle that allows me to obtain a natural, secure position over fences... I find it very, VERY hard to jump anything over 3ft in this saddle. I was jumping in a Devoucoux before and had no problems at all with my position.I bought this saddle in a 17" (seat sizing is generous) with long flaps (14.5"). Overall the saddle quality is nice and on a flat backed horse (most warmbloods and Quarter horses) this saddle fits very well. Unfortunately it does not work for my horse and I, so I must sell it.ON A SIDE NOTE: Be aware that when this saddle gets cold, the panels seem to flatten considerably. You will need to add alot of padding if the temp drops below 40 degrees. For those of us who ride when it's snowing outside, this is a big problem.
    Date published: 2012-02-06
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